Building a Microstock Tracking System – Part 2

Building a Microstock Tracking System – Part 2

Implementation — putting it together

The previous blog did a needs analysis for a microstock submission tracking system and found 2 requirements:

  • Assign a unique number for each image
  • Store all images in one place for simple retrieval

From these we developed a simple list of tasks it had to do

  • Storage of images for easy retrieval
  • Fast sorting by date, topic, etc
  • Instant access to any submission in progress
  • Ability to track and analyze images accepted

Now we’ll first set up the spreadsheet that will handle the 2nd and 3rd items on the list..  I use Microsoft Excel, but any other spreadsheet works just as well. It will have 2 data worksheets and several charts for tracking. 

Table design: 

  • {one col for each microstock agency you use}
  • {image id}
  • {version #}
  • {desc}
  • {keywords}

This simple arrangement builds on the requirement for a unique name for each image and easily does the rest of the tasks. Importantly, there’s no need to store all images multiple times and move them among different folders as the submission process proceeds with each agency. Instead, this single sheet will show immediately what the status is. A new image is entered by its ID — yymmdd-xxx.jpg The version number tracks different crops, color saturations.. I then add a description and keywords.  This information describes images when you upload them to various sites.

Even better is to add the information to the IPTC metadata

 contained in each image. All jpg files include information that gives camera information, plus areas to enter title, description and keywords. Most MS sites read this information directly when you upload, saving an enormous amount of time. An added benefit is that all captions and tags are easily accessible to copy for future images with similar needs.  (Unfortunately, video files don’t contain metadata, but storing their information this way makes it easier to submit to multiple sites.)

I use Lightroom to do this,

but there are tools such a Exiftool that work fine. When an image is done, I change the cell to yellow for each microstock agency’s column to which I’ll submit it. We’re now ready to upload the images to various microstock agencies.

 I use FTP to upload batches, but you can also use the online submission pages each microstock agency provides. At this point you can add the date uploaded to the yellow cell.  Or you can skip this action.  As each MS reviews and rejects or accepts, I change the yellow box either a green for accepted,or a lavender note for needs work  {rejected for focus, can resubmit, etc} All the actual images are kept in one place, so if you make changes you don’t need to copy into multiple folders. (I only consider resubmit to sites with the most sales, for others, it’s not worth the time) Now, you’ve got a complete list of all your images, sortable by date (embedded in the image name) , or by microstock agency, etc. And it’s color coded so you can see status at a glance. When joining a new microstock agency, it’s particularly handy to see which images have been accepted at most other sites. There are refinements but that’s the basic system.

An added benefit is that all captions and tags are easily accessible to copy for future images with similar needs. A simple excel “find all” search identifies needed images across over 40 years of stored images.


I use this method to track over 100K of slide scans & digital images. These are stored on an external HD and cloud using Back Blaze. The main reason I don’t use other systems is I don’t process images in chronological order, especially during frequent travels. Eg, while I rename ASAP and enter the minimal info described in part 1, after that files move thru a variety of paths. Some go immediately to captioning & submission, others need processing thru Topaz AI Photo, deNoise, Sharpen & GigaAI (usually in batches of 50-100 of images with a variety of dates). Posting processing is done later so images are stored in folders indicating whether they need color correction, cropping, isolation, rotation, sky replacement, HDR. It’s more efficient to concentrate on one type of post processing rather than having to change the task for each in a series. Some finished files go only to agencies, others upload to my Pixify store and others are set aside for use in blogs or uploading to FAA (FineArtAmerica). Originals and some intermediate images are archived.

It sounds complicated, but the use of many folders means everything is organized and there are no chokepoints clogging the pipeline. At any time there may be thousands of images at various stages, with the biggest holdups in post and in captioning. So, rather than taking small series of images through all steps you can focus on one tassk at a time (post-processing, resizing, selection, captioning, etc)

By Cascoly

I've been exploring and leading trips for over 40 years. climbing & trekkng in the Alps, Andes, North American mountain ranges and the Himalaya. I'm retired from mountaineering now but world travels in Europe, Africa & Asia continue to expand my portfolio. Besides private travel, I now focus on escorting trips to India & Turkey. Other interests include wide reading in history and vegetable gardening / cooking. You can download digital images here, or find images at We have many thousands of images we haven't displayed yet; so, if you have a special need or request please contact us

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